The America-class second amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA 7) being constructed at a Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, is nearly one third complete, according to US military officials.
The vessel is scheduled for launch in July 2017 and is expected to be delivered to the Navy in December 2018.
The America-class amphibious assault ships were initially designed to carry into battle a US Marine Expeditionary Unit – a quick reaction force – along with attack helicopters and V/STOL (vertical and/or short take-off and landing) aircraft.
Osborn pointed out that the first two America-class warships, constructed as aviation-centric amphibs, were engineered with a larger hangar for aircraft, bigger storage for parts and additional aviation fuel capacity.
The LHA (Landing Helicopter Assault) 7 is specifically designed to accommodate Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters and to host other aircraft such as MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, CH-53 Super Stallions, and UH-1Y Huey helicopters, according to US expert in civil-military relations and cyber diplomacy Franz-Stefan Gady.
Navy spokesman Mathew Leonard underscored that the LHA 7 was designed as a "repeat" of the LHA 6 with a number of limited changes to the ship's fight deck structure and equipment in order to accommodate the F-35B aircraft.
"The Navy and Ingalls have identified lessons learned from design and construction of LHA 6 for incorporation into design and construction of LHA 7 to improve production and quality," Leonard remarked.
The USS Tripoli will be 844-feet long, 106-feet wide and weigh over 44,000 tons. Its turbine propulsion system will allow the vessel to reach speeds of more than 20 knots (23 miles per hour).